I create Sunday Bulletins (aka service leaflets) for an Episcopal Church each week. Currently, I use the MS Publisher (PITA) I also do some web design using Ruby. While a physics undergrad, I learned just enough LaTeX to be dangerous, and to fall in love with well set text.
Bulletins are very regular, and I would like to use TeX along with some Ruby on Rails front end to produce the bulletin each week instead. I have tried to set this up using my limited LaTeX knowledge, but it feels like I am working against the grain and the code is a mess.
Given the following should I start with raw Tex, continue to use LaTeX or use some other macro package?
Where should I go to learn TeX as a programming language rather then just a mark-up tool so I can automate some of these items?
Bulletin Design Requirements:
The design of the bulleting is set, its design being part of the congregation's culture. I have updated it a little for modern typography, but I need to follow the basic pattern (i.e. I cannot easily adapt to something else already out there).
Most of the document consists of a heading line that describes the part of the service (e.g. First Reading, Gospel Hymn, Closing Prayer) followed by a block of text or music. The heading quite often has some detail on the right margin. (e.g. Mark 2:1-14, Hymnal 342)
The bulleting is printed directly form the computer on 8.5 X 14" (legal) paper in a 2-up booklet format. It then gets folded in half, collated and stapled in the center. size can range from 1 to 7 sheets but is usually 3 or 4.
Some music is printed directly into the bulletin in the form of tiff images. These images occasionally need to be split across multiple pages. (In publisher I insert the image twice and crop the bottom off one and the top off the other). I already use LilyPond, and would like to use it more frequently if I could embed music notation directly in the text, but re-typesetting music is slow and error prone so some images will stay for the foreseeable future.
Each page has a 7/8" gutter left of the main text that has short instructions in it (e.g All stand, Celebrant, All). This text is aligned either with a heading, or the start of a paragraph.
A Lot of the text is "poetic," that is, line breaks and indentation are significant. I have this text with tabs and and Line Feeds already, but it took me hours to reset it in LaTeX and there are 1000's of lines that have to be reset. This is what ended up making my last attempt fail.
I need a lot of control over where line breaks occur. Unlike a book, this form can tolerate quite a bit of difference in the size of the bottom margin, but there are certain places where text simply cannot break. If there is a chance to manually adjust page breaks all the better.